Labor - Iraq

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Hydrocarbon law: the crime of the century

Allen Carstensen, Ithaca (NY) Journal, July 23, 2007 Our government is planning the biggest theft in the history of the world. Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame, and the media are not covering it. The Bush administration has crafted an Iraqi hydrocarbon law and is pressuring the Iraqi Parliament to pass it as one of the benchmarks necessary for continued US support of their government. This document pays lip service to the fair and even distribution of profit among the various sects, but a careful look reveals that it allows huge multinational oil companies to take 80 percent of Iraq's oil wealth. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, invoked a rarely used House rule of personal privilege to gain an hour of time on the floor of the House on May 23 to lay out the details of this travesty.

Oil Law Sparks More Conflicts Among Iraqis

Walid Khadduri, Al-Hayat, July 22, 2007 The draft Oil Law is sparking new conflicts among Iraqis, which is of course the last thing they need under the country's terrible political and security conditions. Three types of objections are at play: legal-constitutional, political, and professional-sectoral. The opponents emphasize that Parliament should have dealt first with constitutional amendments, which include hydrocarbon-related items, before acting on a draft Oil Law. This is because of the contradiction and vagueness in constitutional articles about the prerogatives of Iraq's regions and governorates regarding the creation of laws and oil policies that take precedence over state laws regarding the sector. Meanwhile, the political party groupings that participate in the political process are more divided than ever before about the seriousness of the draft legislation and the extent to which it will benefit Iraq.

Iraqi Lawmakers Split on Oil Law

Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, July 22, 2007 Baghdad - Efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Iraq received a double blow on Sunday. Lawmakers acknowledged that there were still many differences on a proposed law to manage the country’s oil, its most lucrative resource, making it unlikely they would approve a law before September, when the Bush administration must report to Congress on Iraq’s progress toward meeting certain legislative benchmarks. The report is expected to have an impact on whether Congress continues to support the Iraq war. In addition, a suicide truck bombing north of Baghdad was apparently aimed at a meeting of Sunni tribal sheiks, who recently agreed to oppose extremists allied with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni Arab group with some foreign influence. Five people were killed in the attack and 12 were wounded, Interior Ministry police officials said.

Maliki raises oil worker wages

United Press International, July 20, 2007 Baghdad - Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is currying favor with oil workers, needed support from a faction that went on strike last month.Maliki's Shiite and Kurd dominated coalition is weakening as violence increases and the Parliament struggles to hold sessions. Political parties are taking hold of the controversial oil law as a spear in Maliki's rule. It's stuck in negotiations between factions that want either a strong regional/local control over the important oil sector or a strong federal hand. The oil unions are warning against allowing too much foreign access to the oil. They have demanded a seat at the law negotiation table, as well as improved worker conditions, and in early June stopped oil production to leverage their power.

US Representative Bill Delahunt (MA-10) on Oil Theft - video

Posted July 18, 2007 on <><>

Washington's Oil Grab: The Benchmark Fraud

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, July 14, 2007 The White House "Benchmark Assessment Report," mandated by Congress, admits to significant Iraqi resistance to the key benchmark oil law that was written in Washington. At the same time, the report continues to promote the fiction that the law (actually a package of four laws) is "to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources to the people of Iraq without regard to sect or ethnicity." That is not its real intent. That is not what it does. The oil law is the key legislation of the package (two separate laws dole out limited revenues to distinct regions). That law is designed to put a multinational stranglehold over Iraq's oil. It is designed to permit and encourage large-scale privatization of Iraq's oil.

Iraqi Kurds: Politics altered oil law

Ben Lando, United Press International, July 13, 2007 Washington - Iraqi Kurds say the oil law has been delayed for political gain and accuse Oil Ministry officials of influencing a legal body's recent oil law report. The Council of Ministers apparently approved the oil law last week, sending it to Parliament, but that has caused an uproar from Baghdad to Irbil, capital of the Kurdistan Regional government. Opponents of an earlier draft's decentralization, as well as potential foreign oil company access, threatened to block the law's passage. The Kurds, the draft's biggest promoter, also oppose it now, for what they call "unauthorized changes made to it." That's because the new draft relied on changes made to it by the Shoura Council, a body designated to ensure the law used proper format and language and was consistent with the constitution.

Statement on the Draft Oil & Gas Law

General Federation of Iraqi Workers, July 10, 2007 To our great Iraqi people and the masses of the Iraqi working class:Iraq is rich with a variety of natural resources, in the forefront of which is the enormous oil wealth, that is the real nerve centre of the political and economic life of both Iraq and the world. Iraq was among the founders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Baghdad in 1960, and issued Law No. 80 of 1961. Under this law, 95.5% of Iraqi territory, that had been under the control of foreign companies according to concession agreements, was expropriated. It lay the proper foundation for protecting the historic gains obtained by the Iraqi people through prolonged battles to regain control of their oil wealth. This law was the solid foundation that ensured success for oil nationalization in 1972.The covetous designs of major industrial countries therefore continued, in particular American and British oil monopolies that were the first to obtain concession agreements in the Arab region more than 80 years ago.

Iraqi Unions Fight the New Oil Law

David Moberg, In These Times, July 9, 2007 Iraq’s proposed oil law, which would open up control of the country’s oilfields to multinational corporations, is one of the Bush administration’s top political priorities. On July 3, Bush called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to encourage him and other leaders to move “aggressively forward” on it, and as In These Times went to press, its latest draft appeared headed to the Iraqi Parliament for debate. Even if it passes, however, enacting it won’t be easy, as it faces strong opposition from Iraqi oil workers. “It doesn’t serve the interests of the Iraqi people,” says Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Basra-based Southern Oil Company Union and the Iraqi Federation of Oil Workers’ Unions. Umara recently toured the United States, advocating both national control of Iraqi oil assets and immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.Umara says that the law - ”written in the United States” - would permit joint ownership of many Iraqi oil fields by foreign companies, which could export much of the oil and profits from these fields for up to 35 years under what are called “production sharing agreements.” “We want the national Iraqi oil company to make service contracts with the companies, not partnerships,” Umara said in an interview, shortly after dedicating a plaque that extolled international labor solidarity at the Chicago monument to the Haymarket workers, whose protests in 1886 led to the declaration of May Day as the international workers’ holiday.

Kurdistan petroleum law gets first reading in Kurdistan's parliament

Kurdistan Regional Government, July 9, 2007 Erbil - Today Mr Adnan Mufti, the Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly (parliament), announced the first reading of the draft Kurdistan Region Petroleum Law. The law was transmitted from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Council of Ministers to the Kurdistan National Assembly early last week. "The Kurdistan National Assembly clearly understands the significance of this long-awaited draft law", said the Speaker, after the first reading. "It is vital to the future of the Kurdistan Region that we have a modern, transparent, investor-friendly petroleum law that maximises returns to all the peoples of Iraq." The Speaker noted that the Secretary of the National Assembly confirmed last Friday that the draft Law is consistent with the Kurdistan Region's rights and obligations under the Iraqi Constitution, and is consistent with the rights of the Kurdistan Region recognised in the draft Iraq oil and gas law agreed in February and the draft Iraq revenue sharing law agreed in June.

Iraq Top Government Jurisdiction Body Rejects Some Oil Law Clauses

Hassan Hafidh, Dow Jones Newswires, June 28, 2007 Amman - The highest Iraqi government jurisdiction body has rejected some clauses of the controversial draft oil and gas law and urged the Cabinet to amend these provisions, according to a recent letter sent by the body, the State Shuraa Council, to the Cabinet and seen by Dow Jones Newswires Thursday. "The Council sees that the powers of signing oil and gas contracts (with international companies) should be confined to the federal government because regions and governorates haven't enough experience to do so," the letter said. According to a recent copy of the draft hydrocarbon law governorates and regions, namely the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, can sign initial contracts to develop and explore oil fields in their own regions.

Iraq Petroleum Law Re-visited

A Paper presented At The Centre for Strategic & International Studies, Washington DC Tariq Shafiq, Director, Petrolog & Associates, June 12, 2007 1.0 Background & Geopolitics 1.1 In May 2006, following the initiation of Dr Maliki’s cabinet of national unity and the appointment of Dr Hussain Shehristani to the portfolio of the Ministry of Oil (MoO), Petrolog & Associates consultants were approached with the task of drafting the Iraq petroleum law. Three Iraqi technocrats, who have a combined international oil industry experience of more than 120 years, prepared the draft law within a few months and submitted it to the MoO in August 2006.The draft was adopted by the MoO and submitted to the Prime Minister, who in turn appointed a ministerial committee which represented a spectrum of interests and views, including in the main representatives from the Regional Government of Kurdistan (KRG).

Visiting Iraqi trade union leaders reject US occupation & new oil law

Two visiting Iraqi trade union leaders from Basra call for rejection of the new oil law being thrust upon Iraq by the US government and the oil companies. Sharat G. Lin, Indy Media, June 19, 2007 Two Iraqi trade union leaders on a speaking tour of the United States called for rejection of the new oil law being considered in the Iraqi parliament. The law was secretly written in Houston in favor of the US oil companies long before it was ever seen by any member of the Iraqi parliament. If passed, the new oil law would effectively turn over all new oil fields to the control of foreign oil companies. ... Visiting

Iraqi Unions Speak Out Against US Occupation

Leaders say theirs is a 'struggle against modern-day colonialism'. Benjamin Terrall, Ohmynews, June 19, 2007 Anti-war activists should be heartened that US Labor Against the War (USLAW) is hosting a US tour of two Iraqi labor leaders, providing people in this country a civilians-eye view of the Iraq war. On June 12, these two impressive unionists spoke in San Francisco at an event co-sponsored by USLAW, United for Peace and Justice and the American Friends Service Committee. Faleh Abood Umara, General Secretary of the Southern Oil Company Union (affiliated with the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions) worked for the Southern Oil Company in Basra for 28 years. Umara was detained by Saddam Hussein's regime in 1998 for union activities. In the post-Saddam years he has worked on his union’s negotiating team with both the Oil Ministry and British occupation authorities, defending the rights of oil company workers. His colleague Hashmeya Mushin Hussein, President of the Electrical Utility Workers Union, is the first woman to head a national union in Iraq. ... Iraqi

Iraqi union leader urges opposition to oil law

Claudia Parsons, Reuters, June 18, 2007 New York - A proposed law regulating Iraq's oil industry would foster US "hegemony" over the world's third largest oil reserves and Iraqi oil workers are determined to oppose it, an Iraqi union leader said on Monday. Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Southern Oil Company Union and the Iraqi Federation of Oil Workers' Unions, was speaking in New York as part of a US tour to press for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq. Washington has been pressing Iraq's government to enact the law which the US administration sees as a benchmark of progress toward national reconciliation more than four years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Umara said the proposed law amounted to "a raid by the international oil cartel" and he said unions representing thousands of workers in the industry would take strong measures to oppose it, including strikes if necessary. ... Iraqi

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